A federal Coalition Member of Parliament has revealed spending a day in the offices of a financial advice practice cemented his views on FOFA and challenged Labor MPs to do the same.
Rising to speak during a debate on FOFA in the House of Representatives yesterday, Coalition MP for the Queensland seat of Bowman, Andrew Laming, said his position supporting the government’s proposed changes was confirmed after spending a day in the office of Anchor National, an authorised representative of the non-aligned Sentry Group.
“Coming from a different professional background, I wanted to truly understand the issues so I went and spent the day with a financial planner. [Anchor National principal] Mike Smith in Springwood invited me to spend a day in his office,” Mr Laming said.
“For all of the analysis from [Labor] about how the profession should bear the brunt of this compliance cost, it would be good for a Labor MP to actually sit down in the office of a financial planner,” he added, directing his comments at shadow financial services minister Bernie Ripoll, who rose to oppose the government’s changes.
The MP said that he witnessed the advice practice sending out letters to lower-income clients informing them that “due to Labor’s reforms they could no longer provide any advice whatsoever and needed to terminate the adviser-client relationship”.
“Under the new [FOFA] rules, there was simply no cost-effective way of continuing to provide the advice to some low-income clients,” Mr Laming told the parliament. “That outcome cannot be tolerated because low-income people need access to advice.”
Mr Laming added that the government’s changes have broad appeal from “smaller financial planners that aren’t linked to Labor-backed industry funds” and that the savings made from removing elements of the FOFA legislation would be passed on to clients.
More broadly, he argued that “financial planners have become the enemy under Labor” and accused the opposition of “sullying” the entire profession by maintaining its focus on cases such as Storm Financial.
His comments followed a 30-minute address by Mr Ripoll in which the government was accused of “fearing the financial services sector” and putting “sectional interests” ahead of the national interest.
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